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Germany leads the way in marine conservation

UK lags behind in designating marine sites

During the last few years, exploitation of resources off the coasts of northern Europe has increased enormously. Offshore gravel, oil and gas extraction, more intensive fishing, and the planned construction of large wind farms all threaten the North and Baltic Seas.

However, a judgement at the High Court in London in 1999 clarified that EU Member States are responsible for designating Natura 2000sites under the Birds and Habitats Directives not only on land, but also offshore.

In November 2002, NABU (BirdLife in Germany) presented a shadow list of marine Natura 2000sites in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), alongside its list of mainland sites. NABU urged that these sites should remain free from any commercial exploitation.In May 2004, after two years of intensive discussions and lobbying with the German Government, the official German proposals for Natura 2000sites were agreed and sent officially to the European Commission in Brussels. This list includes ten sites covering almost a third of the German part of the EEZ in the North and Baltic Seas.

NABU and the German Government are now encouraging neighbouring Member States to designate their offshore Natura 2000sites as quickly as possible. There is a particular need for Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK to designate Dogger Bank, one of the most important areas for birds and wildlife. Currently, only the German part is a protected site under the EU Habitats Directive.

4th July 2014